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Charles Dickens - David Copperfield (1850)

‘The Personal History of David Copperfield’ by Charles Dickens,  was published in November 1850, having appeared in serial  form between May 1849 and November 1850.   In Chapter 13 Dickens describes David’s arrival in Dover in his  search for his great-aunt Betsy Trotwood: “When I came, at last, upon the bare, wide downs near Dover,  it relieved the solitary aspect of the scene with hope; and not  until I reached that first great aim of my journey, and actually  set foot in the town itself, on the sixth day of my flight, did it  desert me. But then, strange to say, when I stood with my  ragged shoes, and my dusty, sunburnt, half-clothed figure, in  the place so long desired, it seemed to vanish like a dream,  and to leave me helpless and dispirited.   I inquired about my aunt among the boatmen first, and  received various answers. One said she lived in the South  Foreland Light, and had singed her whiskers by doing so;  another, that she was made fast to the great buoy outside the harbour, and could only be visited at half-tide; a third, that  she was locked up in Maidstone jail for child-stealing; a fourth,  that she was seen to mount a broom in the last high wind, and  make direct for Calais. The fly-drivers, among whom I inquired  next, were equally jocose and equally disrespectful; and the  shopkeepers, not liking my appearance, generally replied,  without hearing what I had to say, that they had got nothing  for me. I felt more miserable and destitute than I had done at  any period of my running away. My money was all gone, I had  nothing left to dispose of; I was hungry, thirsty, and worn out;  and seemed as distant from my end as if I had remained in  London.  The morning had worn away in these inquiries, and I was  sitting on the step of an empty shop at a street corner, near  the market-place,…” Igglesden and Graves   The shop doorstep David rested on has long been identified as  that of the old established Dover bakers Igglesden and Graves  in the Market Square. The firm used this association on their  advertising for many years. The bakers closed in the late 1960s  and the shop became a stationers and bookshop. The shop has now returned to its former catering role as a tea  room and sandwich shop, trading on its David Copperfield  connection as ‘Dickens Corner’.
Igglesden and Graves. An advert from the 1949 Dover Guide. Back to Words Index